Western Addiction (Jason Hall)
1. What are your top five albums that were released in 2020? (In order 1-5)
- Sturgill Simpson – Cuttin’ Grass Vol. 1 (Butcher Shoppe Sessions)
- Old 97’s – Twelfth
- The Avett Brothers – The Gleam
- Jesse Daniel – Rollin’ On
- Shopping – All or Nothing
2. What band did you discover in 2020 (can be a brand new band or an older band) that had an impact on your life? What made them significant?
I might divide this into two categories. There are new bands I discover and then there are bands I have some kind of awakening too. Having an awakening means that you see them in a new light or your age allows a new perspective.
Spirit Possession - Spirit Possession (Profound Lore)
I like really witchy, chaotic black metal. I also like riffs. This is both. The record is so wild and unnerving that it would make most people want to jump through a wall. This is like your seventh cup of coffee on a turbulent flight. I’m a sensitive person in terms of light and sound but for some reason, this feels right. I have a pretty overactive mind so it’s quite nice when I find something that aligns.
Idles - Ultra Mono (Partisan Records)
This is the modern Jesus Lizard with great melody, structure and socially conscious lyrics. I’ve listened to a lot of music over the years and it becomes harder to find something that is really fresh. Now I understand why they are so big. This band is exciting.
I had a few other awakenings including Orville Peck, Napalm Death and the Kinks. I also went through a really big Rolling Stones phase. I know that sounds odd and I’ve always liked them but I think I “understand” them now and I understand why the Stones vs. Beatles discussion could lead to a street fight. I love the Beatles too.
3. How will you remember 2020? (In terms of music)
I never have a hard time finding new music and good bands but I can definitely see a bit of a lull towards the end of the year, and rightfully so. The logistics to make music is just tougher right now. The pandemic also completely devoured our new record but when people are suffering, it seems small to even discuss. It was tough to talk about our “rock and roll record” when humans were, and are, dying. I felt a bit conflicted.
4. What can we look forward to from you in 2021?
We just want to play shows on our new record, Frail Bray, that came out in May. We had big shows lined up with Bad Religion, Propagandhi, European festivals, etc. and that all went away. The best way to tell if you have something in a song is if the audience reacts. If they don’t, you don’t play that song. The first time we played “Utter Despair” and “Frail Bray” off the new record (before it came out) I was really surprised at the reaction of the audience. We will keep those songs in the set. I’ve also been making new songs because I can’t go anywhere.
5. What records are you looking forward to most in 2021?
I’m hoping that the byproduct of so much downtime is that there is a tectonic explosion of new music. That would be joyous.
Belle and Sebastian are in my top 5 bands of all time. I heard they were going to make a new record and it was postponed. I love them. One of the most underrated bands of all time. In an alternate universe, where life makes sense, they would be one of the most popular bands of all time. The president told us to inject bleach and separated parents from their children on the border so until the mothership comes and picks me up, I’m stuck in an alternate reality.
6. Trying to put a positive spin on things, what is your favorite development from the global pandemic this year? (Is there a new medium you enjoy, a specific song or collaboration, personal news, etc. that was a bright spot?)
Honestly, and I know this isn’t exciting, but I learned how to sleep like a normal person. That sounds ridiculous but I didn’t know how damaging this was to my lifestyle. I had a bit of a health scare before our record came out and I had to recalibrate my lifestyle. I talked about it on the Scream Therapy podcast. The band always told me that I need to relax or someday it would come back to bite me. They were right.
I am saddened by the impact of the pandemic and our leadership’s abysmal handling of it, but I don’t dislike having more time to do exactly what you want to do. The pandemic made me realize that I do so much for other people and most of it doesn’t matter. It has also turned the radiance up on how much capitalism is destroying this Earth. I sing about this often. I have greatly reduced my spending and I think this should be a national goal. If you have food, money, shelter and health care, that’s all you need.